The Illinois Department of Natural Resources would like to remind deer hunters of ongoing efforts to collect samples from harvested deer to assist with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance in Illinois.
Chronic Wasting Disease was first identified in Illinois white-tailed deer populations during the fall of 2002. CWD is a 100% fatal neurological disease caused by a transmissible malformed protein called a prion. Prions spread between deer through direct contact with body fluids or indirectly through environmental contamination of soil, food, or water. Hunters who harvest deer within in the 17 county CWD deer management area (also referred to as ‘zones’) are strongly encouraged to participate in sampling efforts.
During the 2019 regular Firearm Deer Seasons in November and December, the IDNR will operate manned deer check stations in counties within the CWD management area. Locally those counties include: Grundy, Kankakee, LaSalle, Livingston, and Will. All deer harvested in those counties MUST be brought by the hunter to an IDNR check station to be checked in. While sampling is voluntary, the IDNR strongly encourages hunters to allow adult deer to be sampled at this time. Call-in or online harvest check-in are NOT appropriate check-in methods during the regular firearm season.
Deer harvested during all other seasons (second muzzleloader, archery and late season/CWD seasons) may be sampled by utilizing the CWD drop off stations found throughout the 17 county CWD zones, as well as neighboring counties. Most drop off stations are located at state parks or other state-owned properties. Additional locations have been arranged to increase convenience for hunters. Some taxidermists and processors are cooperators with IDNR and are assisting with sampling efforts. These cooperators are an integral part of the early warning system in areas of the state not currently considered infected. For a list of locations visit: www.dnr.illinois.gov/programs/CWD/Documents/CWDSamplingLocations.pdf
CWD sampling provides IDNR biologists with critical information regarding deer herd health and it allows the IDNR to test specific deer for infection (which is beneficial to hunters). If you are hunting in areas with known CWD infection, IDNR strongly encourages hunters to have adult deer tested. The Centers for Disease Control, numerous human health and wildlife agencies around the nation recommend testing for CWD and strongly discourage eating venison from infected animals. There are still too many unknowns surrounding CWD and its potential impact to humans.
Hunters are a key part of CWD management efforts in Illinois and are encouraged to participate in sampling efforts each year. Increased sampling effort translates to more data, which is critical to a better understanding of how Chronic Wasting Disease is moving across the landscape in Illinois.
Detailed information regarding CWD and the IDNR’s management strategy can be found at: www.dnr.illinois.gov/programs/CWD/Pages/default.aspx
For more information, please contact the Gibson City IDNR office at 217-784-4730.